New Mexico prosecutors leveled another charge on “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who’s the last defendant standing in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Earlier this month, prosecutors said that witnesses observed Reed “drinking heavily and smoking marijuana” in the days leading up to the tragic shooting.
“It is likely that Defendant Gutierrez was hung over when she inserted a live bullet into a gun that she knew was going to be used at some point by an actor while filming a shooting scene with other actors and crew members,” special prosecutors wrote in a scathing June 9 filing.
Already charged with involuntary manslaughter, Reed now faces a new evidence tampering charge related to an unspecified transfer of narcotics to thwart her prosecution. The charging document is thin on information related to the allegations, stating only that Reed “did transfer narcotics to another person with the intent to prevent the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of herself.”
As the government ratchets up its case, Reed’s defense has consisted of a counteroffensive toward the prosecutors. The prosecution that followed the fatal “Rust” shooting has been troubled from the start. New Mexico dropped charges against the lead defendant, actor and producer Alec Baldwin, after losing key pretrial rulings. Baldwin’s legal team successfully argued that the so-called “firearm enhancement” against him was unconstitutional because the statute was amended after the October 2021 shooting. The case’s original prosecutors — First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb — resigned after Baldwin noted that Reeb’s status as a Republican lawmaker violated the New Mexico constitution’s prohibitions against serving in the legislative branch and the criminal justice arm of the state.
Two new special prosecutors took over the case: Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis.
Reed’s lawyers are trying to regenerate controversy around their office by pointing to an email the case’s lead investigator Robert Shilling sent to Carmack-Altwies and Morrissey.
“The current special prosecutor has directed that I conduct no further investigation into this matter,” Shilling wrote, according to the filing. “The conduct of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office during and after their initial investigation is reprehensible and unprofessional to a degree I still have no words for. Not I or 200 more proficient investigators than I can / could clean up the mess delivered to your office in October 2022 (1 year since the initial incident … inexcusable).”
The missive was “inadvertently” sent to Reed’s attorney Jason Bowles, who said he asked why it was sent to Carmack-Altwies, who ostensibly was no longer involved in the case.
Reed’s legal team claims that Shilling informed them that he couldn’t discuss the message because of a non-disclosure agreement.
“This whole exchange is beyond troubling on many fronts,” Bowles wrote in a seven-page letter. “First, it appears beyond doubt now that the State is attempting to sweep exculpatory information ‘under the rug.’ But for the fortuitousness of this ” ‘inadvertent’ send, defense counsel would likely have never known about Shilling’s information and extremely negative views on the investigation. Ms. Gutierrez Reed has an expert witness regarding the severe problems in the investigation. The fact that the State’s lead investigator shares those views, or some of those views , is highly exculpatory.”
Reed’s legal team demands “all communications and emails in and between Mr. Shilling, DA Carmack Altweis, and the special prosecutors.”
The final defendant, assistant director David Hall, pleaded down to a minor charge that resulted in a non-jail sentence.
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